Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has finally broken his silence over Thursday’s clash at Ajnala. On Saturday, he condemned the use of the Guru Granth Sahib as a “shield” by radical activist Amritpal Singh Sandhu as the latter along with others stormed the Ajnala police station to secure an aide’s release.
Tweeting his reaction Saturday, the CM, without naming Amritpal, stated: Those who use the sacred Guru Granth Sahib as shield and take the Guru all the way to the police station can in no way be considered worthy of being called the “waris” (inheritors) of Punjab and Punjabiat.
ਸ਼ਬਦ ਗੁਰੂ ਸ਼ੀੑ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਨੂੰ ਢਾਲ ਬਣਾ ਕੇ ਥਾਣਿਆਂ ਤੱਕ ਲੈ ਕੇ ਜਾਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਕਿਸੇ ਵੀ ਪੱਖ ਤੋਂ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਅਤੇ ਪੰਜਾਬੀਅਤ ਦੇ “ ਵਾਰਿਸ ” ਅਖਵਾਉਣ ਦੇ ਕਾਬਿਲ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੋ ਸਕਦੇ..
— Bhagwant Mann (@BhagwantMann) February 25, 2023
Amritpal is head of a faction of the outfit ‘Waris Punjab De’, created by late actor and activist Deep Sidhu.
Mann’s reaction came two days after Amritpal’s supporters clashed with the police, broke through barricades and laid siege to Ajnala police station, refusing to return till they agreed to his demands.
Asked about the incident while on his trip to Mumbai, Mann had told mediapersons Friday that the information about the incident was wrong. “In Punjab, everybody lives in harmony. There is a special bond between various communities and this harmony has continued despite bullets being fired at the special bond…but people want to live together,” he had said.
#WATCH | When asked about Ajnala incident, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann says, "You have wrong info. Law & order in Punjab under control. Punjab Police is capable. Bullets were fired at social bonding in Punjab for 10 yrs. But people want to live together. Ours is a peaceful state…" pic.twitter.com/DogMwb1H1u
— ANI (@ANI) February 24, 2023
Amritpal had carried the Guru Granth Sahib in a special vehicle as he headed to Ajnala police and was seen pushing the vehicle from behind, surrounded by his armed guards.
Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Gaurav Yadav had said Friday that they did not react despite Amritpal turning violent because of the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib.
The incident left at least six policemen injured.
Amritpal’s decision to bring the sacred Guru Granth Sahib, considered to be a living Guru by the Sikhs, along with the protesters to the police station has been widely criticised, with opposition parties unitedly condemning the act.
His justification was that the Guru Granth Sahib was carried by Sikh soldiers to the World Wars and it had also been part of the farmers’ agitation in Delhi, the Behbal Kalan morcha and the ongoing Bandi Singhs protests in Mohali.
SGPC panel on enshrining Guru Granth Sahib at protests
On Saturday, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex body managing Sikh historical gurdwaras, formed a panel of Sikh sampredas (sects), jathebandis (organisations) and scholars to discuss the issue of “enshrining Guru Granth Sahib at protests, demonstrations and sites of possession”.
The panel will submit a report within 15 days, following which a final decision will be taken by the five high priests, said a statement issued by the SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami.
The SGPC’s decision follows the statement issued by the jathedar of the Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh, on Facebook Friday that while it was important to support someone who was fighting for Sikh rights and raising his voice against atrocities, “if during such a struggle if it is felt that the glory and sacredness of the Guru Granth Sahib could be damaged, then one should seek guidance from Sikh history”.
Sikh preachers speak out
Several Sikh bodies and prominent Sikh preachers have also come out against Amritpal using the Guru Granth Sahib to protect himself and his supporters from police action.
Prominent Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale has in a 25 minute video message said the move could have led to desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib.
He added that after the Ajnala incident, everyone in Punjab including Sikhs was worried about Punjab moving back into the dark times which everyone remembers and does not want to repeat. “In today’s day and age battles are not fought with weapons but through ideological discussions,” he said.
Dhadrianwale also countered Amritpal’s argument that Guru Granth Sahib was routinely carried by Sikh soldiers during battle. “When this happened the Guru Granth Sahib was placed with great respect far away from where the actual battle was taking place. The soldiers didn’t carry the Guru Granth Sahib with them to the battlefield,” he said.
Sikh preacher Bhai Sarbjit Singh Dhunda said during his address to the Sangat Friday that it was unfortunate that the holy Guru Granth Sahib was taken to a police station over a personal battle.
In another address on Saturday, Dhunda said that if Amritpal was as brave as he claimed to be then he should have sorted the matter with the police on his own. “Why involve the Sangat in it? We have faced so many FIRs and fought these in the courts. We have never asked the Sangat to join us in that,” he said.
“While it is claimed that his (Amritpal) battle is with the Centre, what happened in Ajnala has actually benefited the Centre in building up a case to impose central rule in Punjab,” said Dhunda.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)
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